According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about 18 percent of pediatricians admit to sometimes turning a parent away if they refuse to have their child immunized.
Patients and parents aren't only fired or terminated over differing opinions regarding childhood vaccines, however -- it can also involve disagreements over medical issues across the board.
If you refuse or demand a certain medical treatment or disagree with your doctor, you may be handed walking papers instead of a prescription.
According to the North Carolina Medical Board, patient termination is a growing issue and is primarily motivated by people feeling more empowered over their personal medical care.
Dr. Scott Kirby is the director of the North Carolina Medical Board.
Patients have the right to challenge medical providers in an effort to seek the best care possible, but Kirby warned, "There are physicians who feel that the patient has to accept the consequences to their conscientious objection to whatever recommendations the physician may make."
Those consequences should be clearly outlined in a doctor's written policies.
Whether it's over a treatment plan or a prescription, if patients and physicians don't see eye-to-eye, the physician may make an ethical or professional decision to "divorce" the patient from the doctor's practice.
A doctor could also take such action against an aggressive patient seeking a prescription drug they don't really need, or if the patient refuses to pay their bill or repeatedly misses their scheduled appointments.
According to the American Medical Association Guidelines, however, doctors should give sufficient notice to the patient to find another doctor.
In general, physicians must document the reason for the termination, and they should ensure the patient's medical records are appropriately transferred to another medical provider.
The physician should never just tell a patient to take a hike.
Cherie Minette is a naturopathic physician and she had concerns over whether or not to vaccinate her little boy.
When she discussed these concerns with her physician, Minette says, "She folded her arms and said, ‘If you can't trust us, we can't help you,' and I thought, you're right, you can't help me, but it shook me as a new mother."
Minette said she then wondered what she would do next, and if other doctors might react in a similar manner if she also voiced these same concerns to them.
"It's been said over and over, vaccines are a victim of their own success and people just don't understand how devastating these illnesses can be," Kirby pointed out.
Experts say the best defense against a doctor/patient "break-up" is for both to understand each other by thoroughly addressing all questions and concerns.
"If pediatricians don't take that time and opportunity to explain to parents the importance of vaccinations, or even just the other side of it, then they risk losing that parent and maybe that child to getting the care they need," Minette said.
Whether it's over vaccines or any other medical treatment, more terminated patients are now turning to naturopathic doctors like Minette for care.
An alternative to the traditional medical model, naturopathic doctors utilize natural therapies, diet and exercise to treat everything from allergies to heart disease for both individuals and families.
Naturopathic doctors, however, do not perform major surgery, and not all states legally license them to practice medicine.
Minette says naturopathic medicine is not a substitute for routine physicals or surgery, and patients need to communicate their homeopathic care to their physician to avoid any complications.
Regardless of whether you chose a medical or naturopathic physician, the doctor/patient relationship should be a partnership.
If there is ever a disagreement between you and your physician regarding your medical care, experts say the best prescription may be better communication.
The following information is from an article published in The Wall Street Journal entitled "The Doctor will never see you again."
The following information is from an ABC News report entitled "Doctors may ‘fire' parents who don't vaccinate children."
The following notes are from Dr. Scott Kirby, director of the North Carolina Medical Board:
Click here for more information about naturopathic medicine.
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